MRPA MINNESOTA Magazine Fall 2020

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MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks

Volume 15, Issue 4 • Fall 2020



Nature Centers & Conservation Areas Featuring the new Westwood Hills Nature Center and Bluffs Traverse Conservation & Recreation Area



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MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks

Publisher Minnesota Recreation and Park Association 200 Charles Street NE, Fridley, MN 55432 Tel: 763.571.1305 An affiliate of National Recreation and Park Association

Editorial Staff Michelle J. Snider Bethani Gerhard Editorial Board Jennifer Fink, New Brighton Lori Hokenson, New Brighton Lucie Patrick, Maple Grove John W. Stutzman, Golden Valley Advertising Sales & Design Todd Pernsteiner Pernsteiner Creative Group 952.841.1111 MRPA Board of Directors 2020 President: Chris Esser, South St. Paul President-Elect: Chuck Stifter Past President: Tom Schmitz, New Ulm Secretary: Chris Fleck, Eagan Treasurer: Dale McCamish, Rochester RSC Chair: Jerome Krieger, Blaine East Metro: Lake Johnson, Roseville East Metro: Alex McKinney, Washington County East Metro: Reed Smidt, Woodbury Northeast Region: Ross Demant, Otsego Northwest Region: Marcia Larson, Bemidji Southern Region: Paul Peanasky, Faribault West Metro: Scott Berggren, Crystal West Metro: Annie Olson, Minneapolis West Metro: Nate Rosa, St. Louis Park This magazine is the official quarterly publication of Minnesota Recreation and Park Association and is provided complimentary to members as part of their MRPA membership. The editorial board encourages the submission of articles and photos for publication by agency members. Articles of approximately 500-700 words or less may be submitted, but may be edited for length and clarity. Contact Michelle Snider, MRPA, at 763.571.1305 x100 if interested in submitting an article for a future issue. Articles and Advertising Deadlines Winter 2021 issue.................. December 15, 2020 Spring 2021 Issue..................... February 15, 2021 Summer 2021 issue...........................May 22, 2021 Fall 2021 issue...................... September 15, 2021 MRPA reserves the right to approve all submitted advertising in MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks magazine. All requests for advertising should be made to Todd Pernsteiner, Account Manager, at 952.841.1111 or

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TABLE OF CONTENTS From the Board President..................4 MRPA in Action....................................6 Someone to Know: Brett Rannow.....6 Keeping Up.................................... 8-10 MRPA Flashback..................................9 Creating Pathways of Success.........12 Great American Outdoors Act........14

MRPA Awards of Excellence....... 16 Answering the Call of Nature..........34 Westwood Hills Nature Center.......35 Bluffs Traverse in Winona.................41 Considerations for Signage............ 44 Corporate Connections.................. 46 2020 MRPA Corporate Members....................... Buyer’s Guide

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Autumn Leaves and Cool Breeze – I Enjoy Fall Most of All! The autumn season is a time for gathering, reflection, and special events. While we are fatigued and wary by the state of the world, many parks and recreation agencies have forged ahead with traditional events while some continue to cautiously weigh options with public safety and perception in mind. Both perspectives are admirable, there is no right or wrong during these tenuous pandemic times. We exist to serve our communities, if that means the slow return to traditional events and activities or the continued pause of what we would traditionally do, we are doing what we believe is best for our communities and our people, both within our teams and in service to the public. Whether or not you are being cheered on by your local officials, decision makers, or the public, know that you will always have the MRPA family standing behind you to cheer you on, no matter the decisions you make or circumstances you find yourself in. On behalf of the MRPA Board and staff, our sincerest gratitude to all members, sponsors, and associates who attended the 2020 Virtual Annual Conference “Connecting Minnesota” in September. The conference registration and participation exceeded all expectations as the unknowns of this first-ever virtual conference weighed heavily on the Board and conference committee. While we did not match the financial success of a traditional in-person annual conference, this year’s success is measured by the participation numbers and the technology, which proved accessible and reliable, making the education and networking all possible. While all conference committee members deserve our profound thanks for their innovation and perseverance, special recognition is deserved to superstar Nikki Greenwell with Anoka County Parks for creating the website and platform that the virtual annual conference operated upon. And by the way, she and her family also personally branded by hand each wooden conference logo coaster delegate gift. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of the conference committee, we now know future virtual and remote MRPA education opportunities are possible in service to all members across our great state. This fall edition of the MRPA magazine celebrates our annual Awards of Excellence. I encourage you to review and recognize the great work our MRPA members are doing in the categories of management, programs, facilities, partnerships, communication, and volunteers. I am always inspired by the innovation, creativity, and dedication of our annual award winners and agencies. My thanks to the Awards Committee for their review and scoring of all initiatives submitted and to the award recipients for being innovative leaders in our profession.

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Fall is a great time for friends and flannel! Chris Esser pictured with 2020 Annual Conference Co-Chairs Ross Demant (left) and Scott Zlotnik (right) The MRPA Board continues to navigate a challenging 2020 for our membership, budget, and the future outlook of the association. We have called a special meeting in November, a month we typically do not meet, in order to bring the MRPA’s 2021 budget into clearer focus. There is good news and bad news. Bad news is that we are undoubtedly going to adopt a deficit operating budget for 2021, where projected revenues will be less than projected expenditures. This is never an easy outlook as we try to balance the association’s financial needs while being mindful and respectful of the fees and charges assessed to our membership during this time of budgetary uncertainty. The good news? At the October meeting, the Board voted to pay-off our $50,000 line-of-credit from earlier in the year. This may seem counterintuitive based upon the budget outlook; however, the MRPA investment portfolio dipped down to a low of $321,000 in 2020 and recently rebounded to a high of $403,000, one of the largest balances reached since inception. The investment portfolio exists for a rainy day, and it is pouring at the moment. Wisely, the Board voted to pay-off the line of credit due to its recent change in value, which unquestionably will continue to rollercoaster in 2020, especially with the unknowns of the national election. This action has reduced the MRPA’s debt moving forward into 2021. Parks and recreation has a renewed relevancy in 2020 that cannot be ignored. Unfortunately that relevance is not always reflected in our budgets and the decisions being made as we look ahead to 2021. Thank you for all you do, and remember, we are not only a membership, but a family that supports one another. I could not be more proud and grateful for the help and support our membership shows each other in good times and in bad. Stay active, stay engaged, and find time to relax and reflect. Enjoy the changing leaves, pumpkin spice, football, and sweatshirt weather!





MRPA IN ACTION Thank You to the 2020 Annual Conference Committee! The MRPA Annual Conference Committee was planning a traditional conference until it was interrupted by the pandemic. The committee had to completely re-organize into the first-ever MRPA Virtual Conference. MRPA extends a huge thank you to this year’s conference committee. This event would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of these individuals: Annual Conference Co-Chairs: Ross Demant and Scott Zlotnik Exhibit Hall: Mike Bauer and Zac Dockter Logistics: Nick Jacobs Marketing: Nikki Greenwell Networking: Roxann Maxey and Ann Mosack Programming: Gina Hugo, Marcia Larson, Marc Mattice, Alyssa Pink and Chelsea Swiggum Sponsorships: Alicia Watts Volunteers: Dolf Moon and Sara Witte

2020 Annual Conference Snapshots Left: Maple Grove Parks and Recreation won the Creativity Award during the Annual Conference’s Virtual Bingo Below: A photo from the Annual Conference’s Networking Event at Theodore Wirth

Someone You Should Know: Brett Rannow Brett Rannow has always been a person who spent time outside recreating – whether hiking, playing youth sports or backyard adventures with his friends. “My family moved around pretty frequently, so I often leaned on recreation programs to make new friends and recreating in nature to explore unfamiliar areas,” says Rannow. “I found recreation as a career during my freshman year at the University of Minnesota,” he adds. “I was in-between majors. I was looking for an area of study that interested me on a personal level.” Rannow took the introductory course to recreation and was immediately hooked. “Helping people enjoy their free time in a positive way,” he says. “Sign me up! Since then, every internship and experience learning from others has continued my interests and passions in recreation to grow.” As the meeting and events coordinator for New Brighton Parks and Recreation, Rannow describes his career as a learning experience. “During my time in undergrad, I took on as many internships and relevant part-time jobs as I could to expose myself to the massive world of recreation and to learn from professionals in the field,” says Rannow. “This field has so many wonderful people who are willing to help out if you have questions, so I’ve spent the past few years asking a lot of questions. I’ve been lucky enough to be put in positions where I’ve had the opportunity to succeed and make mistakes on my own merit. All the successes and mistakes have been beneficial in improving myself, and kept my career moving forward.” Rannow says John Stutzman introduced him to both MRPA and MRPF in 2017. “Then I got involved with MRPA in the summer of 2018 when I was interning for the City of St Louis Park,” he adds. “I helped with the MRPF silent auction which allowed me to reach out to different cities, counties and private organizations. Looking back, it was a fantastic opportunity to introduce myself to professionals in the field and network all around the state.” Rannow is the current Young Professional and Student Network chair. “The year of 2020 has certainly been an interesting experience, but I’ve had fantastic help along the way. I encourage all members of MRPA to become involved in different networks.” He adds, “I have also always looked forward to the MRPA Annual Conferences as an opportunity to not only network, but take a step back to really visualize how many people are working hard to make recreation possible and accessible for Minnesota’s communities.” MRPA members are the heart of our organization. They are involved and committed to advancing the parks and recreation programming. MRPA in Action is a new magazine feature which will highlight one section/committee and one professional per issue.

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KEEPING UP Boe Carlson Elected to the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration Three Rivers Park District Superintendent Boe Carlson has been elected to the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration. Carlson was inducted at the Academy’s virtual Annual Meeting in October. The Academy is a group of distinguished practitioners and educators who are

leaders in the field of parks and recreation. They must have served for at least 15 years in a high level of administration in a park and recreation agency; or as a recognized educator in parks and recreation administration; or they must manage a park and recreation department for an agency with a population of more than 500,000. They also must have demonstrated outstanding ability in administration, management or education in the profession; displayed broad interest with a direct service benefit to the advancement of public parks and recreation; or assumed leadership with a keen desire to contrib-

ute to the advancement of the field. Established in 1980, the Academy was formed to advance knowledge related to the administration of recreation and parks; to support and encourage scholarly efforts by both practitioners and educators to enhance the practice of park and recreation administration; to promote broader public understanding of the importance of parks and recreation to the public good; and to conduct research, publish scholarly papers and/or sponsor seminars related to the advancement of park and recreation administration.

Marcia Bach Retires from Crystal Parks and Recreation Congratulations to Marcia Bach on her retirement on September 30, 2020. Most recently, Marcia worked for Crystal Parks and Recreation for 10 years. She has over 50 years in the profession, including working for the United States Tennis Association. Look for the more detailed article in an upcoming magazine.

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Tony Sailer Retiring After 21 Years with Brainerd Parks and Recreation After graduating from St. Cloud State University with a Mass Communications degree, Tony’s first job was as an assistant editor at the Wadena PioneerJournal. Three years later he took a job as a sportswriter and outdoors editor at the Brainerd Daily Dispatch where he was employed for 16 years.

It is not a stretch to say that recreation and outdoor activities are in Tony Sailer’s genes. “I grew up on a family resort near Vergas (12 miles east of Detroit Lakes) so we did a lot of fishing and hunting and had plenty of time to invent outdoor adventures,” says Sailer, who is retiring in December after 21 years with the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department. “And my dad was a high school basketball and baseball coach for nearly 40 years, so all eight of his children were three-sport athletes. We spent countless hours in the gym or at the ballfields.” “My dad actually started the summer recreation program in Frazee shortly after returning from World War II,” he adds. “Back then, summer recreation consisted of baseball.” Tony’s journey to a Parks and Recreation career did not take the normal path.

didn’t study recreation in college, the breakout sessions were pretty much my college courses,” says Sailer. “I absorbed the information at the breakout sessions like a sponge.

“A person I used to write about as a Brainerd High School athlete was later the recreation specialist at Brainerd Parks and Recreation,” recalls Sailer. “She stopped in to see me one day and said she was taking a job elsewhere and thought I should apply for her job. Even though I didn’t have a background or degree in recreation I surprisingly got hired.” In 2010, Sailer was named the interim director following the director’s resignation. A year later the “interim” was dropped. “Every job I’ve had since graduating from college, was a ‘right place at the right time’ sort of thing,” says Sailer. “It shows me that God has a plan for our lives and leads us to where we are supposed to be. I’ve been lucky to work in two fields that I really enjoy. I love sports, the outdoors and working with kids. I’ve been blessed.” He says attending MRPA state conferences was incredibly beneficial to his parks and recreation career. “Since I

“Being from an outstate agency, I didn’t know anybody when I first began attending the state conferences and, frankly, was a bit intimidated. But everyone was so welcoming that I soon started making valuable connections. There were so many people that patiently answered questions I had, gave me guidance and support, and helped steer me in the right direction. The MRPA is truly one big family.” “The one thing that will forever astound me, however, is how the heck does Michelle Snider remember everyone’s names,” says Sailer. “That utterly amazes me.” He plans to return to his roots after his retirement. “My parents bought the family resort the year I was born,” he says. “After dad died and mom moved into assisted living, I bought their house on the lake. I am going to test the theory that says you can’t go home again. I guess you can say my life has come full circle. I’m looking forward to fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreational events where I get to be a participant and someone else is running the show.”

This photo was taken during the social at Anoka County Parks at the 2009 Annual Conference and Exhibit Hall. MRPA members (left to right, front row): Jared Flewellen, Michelle Okada (left to right, back row): Roxann Maxey, Aimee Peterson, Chris Esser, Todd Muroski, Nate Monahan.


Flashback: 2009

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KEEPING UP Plymouth Receives a High-Performance Award from Cartegraph The City of Plymouth received a High Performance Government award from Cartegraph, a leader in operations management software and service. Twelve organizations rose to the top, based on their accomplishments in several core areas, including infrastructure management and improvement, operational efficiency, citizen engagement and data-driven decision-making. The winners were honored in front of 1,000 of their peers during a CarteCon Online virtual awards ceremony. The City of Plymouth used to manage their infrastructure with a mash-up of disconnected tools. Procedures to inventory assets, track work orders, and schedule repairs varied by department. So, they set out to find a comprehensive solution for Parks & Forestry, Public Works, Engineering, GIS and IT. Through a phased implementation, the Plymouth team worked together to inventory over 175,000 citywide assets. They’re estimating savings of nearly $40,000 annually on data entry, inspection efficiencies and windshield time while improving service for their residents.

The City of Plymouth is estimating savings of nearly $40,000 annually on data entry, inspection efficiencies and windshield time while improving service for their residents.

Get involved with Minnesota Recreation & Park Foundation! Let your membership work for you! The Minnesota Recreation & Park Foundation (MRPF) is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in Minnesota by supporting recreation and parks through education, networking opportunities, programming grants, student and professional continuing education scholarships, and providing support to the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association. Our primary objective is to support the education, innovation, and training of all recreation professionals and students.

Become a member of MRPF and enjoy these benefits: • Annual

donation 501(c)(3) tax benefit fees for MRPF sponsored trainings, programs & events • Access to Program Initiative Grants • Access to Education Grants • Student Scholarships • Professional Scholarships • Networking Events member rates • Fundraising Events member rates • Conference & Workshop/ Training Financial Assistance • Reduced

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Creating Pathways of Success By Lori A. Hoffner, Supporting CommUnity, Inc

Have you ever hopped into your car and start driving down the road only to find yourself on the oh-so-familiar path to work, on your day off? Work is not where you were intending on going, and yet your brain has gone immediately to that pathway or the set of neurons that due to repetition, are programmed to fire in a certain way because of the familiarity of the situation. It might be the routine as you leave your home, it might be the time of day or just that you’re distracted and don’t really give your brain a clear message for the neurons to fire on. In the book, Why Do They Act That Way, by David Walsh, Ph.D., he states, “Neurons that fire together, wire together,” and every single person has millions of neurological pathways caused by the constant firing and wiring of neurons, through repetition and experience. As adults we have the advantage of repetition. Years of experience gives us an understanding of what to do next. Whether there will be consequences to our actions or most importantly, how to rectify a situation if we do choose the wrong path. Young people need the same kind of advantage. Repetition,

multiple experiences, and opportunities create healthy pathways in their brain for positive decision making and skill building. For the young people that are seeking employment with you, those jobs provide so many wonderful experiences for them. Experiences that create positive neurological pathways. Those experiences can also create a solid and reliable future employee, so we must remember what our role is in the entire process. Based on cognitive neuroscience research, adolescent brain development lasts until approximately 24 years of age--the age group that is currently defined as Gen Z. During the different stages of development of the brain, those important pathways are being created and the pathways rely on positive support and multiple experiences. More than likely, members of your seasonal, part-time, or new full-time staff are a part of the Gen Z generation. Therefore, if you have the pleasure of working with or employ young people up to the age of 24, there are going to be those days that you ask yourself, why do they act that way? Take note that you can help create those positive pathways for success on the job by providing relevant, repeated opportunities for them to learn and develop into the kinds of staff members that helps you, your department and your organization succeed.

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Another way to think about creating those pathways is comparable to learning a foreign language. How many ways do you practice learning that language? You write it, speak it, read it and you hear it. Each of those experiences engages the brains neurons to fire and then wire together through various styles of repetition. If we want young people to understand a required task for the job such as knowing how to sign people up for classes, learning aquatic safety protocols or the way they should engage with customers, the opportunity to practice must come in many different forms and through many different experiences. Ideally, from as many different individuals that are willing to remain calm and patient and remembering that a new pathway is being created for that employee. According to Jason Wingard, a contributor to the Forbes online magazine, “Employers who take a broad view of training and development pathways will tap into this generation’s thirst for practical, handson, technology-driven education that will offer employers a valuable return on their investment.” Additionally, 97 percent of Gen Z are using some type of video streaming platform in a typical week, such as YouTube. In fact, YouTube is the top spot for Gen Z social media usage, with 84 percent of Gen Z overall and 90 percent of Younger Gen Z (13-17) using it at least once a week. YouTube is

If our goal is to develop a successful workforce and ultimately, a successful work environment, we must recognize our role as leaders to supervise in such a way that provides a clear understanding of those expectations.

being used by Gen Z more than any other social media app for fun and entertainment (60 percent). It benefits you to consider creating micro learning opportunities, such as teaching and training videos to develop the necessary skill sets, using platforms that meets them where they are. This will be an important tool for today’s teens career progression.

Gen Z place high value on mentorship with 33 percent stating it’s one of the most important benefits an employer can offer. All industries must remember that support in the workplace is vital for a happy and engaged workforce and this is where mentoring comes in. Mentoring also helps to create those pathways of success for the job, for their future and for yours.

It’s up to every manager or supervisor to provide that learning opportunity, the opportunity for those neurons to fire and wire together. It’s always surprising when an employer feels that just by putting on the uniform, a young person should understand the expectations of the job. If our goal is to develop a successful workforce and ultimately, a successful work environment, we must recognize our role as leaders to supervise in such a way that provides a clear understanding of those expectations. Instead of looking at the training process and thinking about the amount of time it takes, think of it as time well spent when observing the outcome and time you’ll save in the long run. Be willing to engage in a mentoring or shadowing process that allows your younger staff the opportunity to learn from your more experienced staff. In fact,

Done well, setting goals in advance with training, mentoring opportunities, and building the necessary relationships with the Gen Z generation can turn goal progression into the necessary, positive pathways which allows this generation to level-up and achieve amazing things. Lori A. Hoffner is the president of Supporting CommUnity, Inc. As a speaker, trainer, and consultant, Lori’s mission is to encourage intentional, positive, everyday practices to create a confident and thriving environment for organizations and the communities they serve. She can be reached at Lori@ or call Jenn Garber, Director of Sales and Marketing to schedule a customized staff training at 720-315-5655.

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Great American Outdoors Act Passes By Boe Carlson, Three Rivers Park District Superintendent, MRPA Legislative Chair

One of the most significant pieces for legislation for parks and recreation passed this summer: the Great American Outdoors Act. The bill has two components. The first is to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). This will provide roughly $900 million a year that will be invested in recreation and conservation efforts. The other component of the bill is to provide roughly $1.9 billion to our public lands for deferred maintenance and infrastructure repair. The program uses royalties from offshore oil and natural gas to provide these funds. Many of our communities throughout the state have historically received funds from this program, however it has been decades since it was fully funded. This program could be the most significant investment in parks and recreation from the federal government in a very long time.

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Each year MRPA recognizes agencies or organization in Minnesota for outstanding achievements. The following are the recipients of the MRPA Awards of Excellence for projects completed in 2019.

Hiway Federal Credit Union – With You on the Road of Life Hiway Federal Credit Union has been around for almost 90 years, starting in November, 1931 by employees from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The credit union’s beginning was very modest, conducting business out of a cash box, while never losing sight of its purpose: to help members succeed financially. Founded to serve the employees of the Minnesota Highway Department, thus Hiway Federal Credit Union, Hiway has since grown the membership to include state agency employees, military service members, small businesses, individuals and families throughout Minnesota. In addition, Hiway Federal Credit Union has supported the Minnesota Park and Recreation Foundation for years. Hiway’s association with the Foundation has led to a variety of beneficial programs through the Minnesota Recreation and Park Association, including the Awards of Excellence. MRPA extends a huge thank you to Hiway Federal Credit Union for their support of this awards program.

We’re with you on the road of life. Though many things in our daily lives have changed, one thing remains the same: Hiway is here to provide the financial services, resources and support you need at every stage of life. Visit us online or call us — we’re available 24/7. 651.291.1515 • 800.899.5626 Facebook “f ” Logo

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Administrative or Management Strategies Hutchinson Parks, Recreation and Community Education – Master Plan The purpose of the master plan in Hutchinson is to provide guidance for how to grow and maintain existing and future parks and recreation programming for the next 10-20 years or more. The 62-page master plan will help to guide administration and the Parks, Recreation and Community Education (PRCE) department by integrating community input, current services and infrastructure with best practices in recreation and park planning standards. The first master plan was drafted in 1979 and was used as the community of Hutchinson began to grow into the nearby countryside. Having a plan for park expansion in the late 1970s

was almost unheard of. The director at that time, along with elected officials, realized the need to have plans for the future. In 2013, the City of Hutchinson, with help from consulting firm Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc., delivered a comprehensive plan document, where an entire chapter is devoted to parks, open space and recreation. Within the document is included a facility maintenance and replacement schedule, which is a valuable tool used in the budgeting process. The community was updated throughout the entire process by using online surveys, open houses and stakeholder interviews.

The purpose of the master plan in Hutchinson is to provide guidance for how to grow and maintain existing and future parks and recreation programming for the next 10-20 years or more.

Roseville Parks and Recreation – Cedarholm Programs & Events Transformation Roseville Cedarholm Community Building and Golf Course is a unique facility encompassing a nine-hole golf course, new cart storage facility, grounds maintenance facility and a new 4,800 sq/ft community building. The community building has a pro-shop, golf service counter, bar area, state-of-the-art catering kitchen and a 120-person banquet room. The community building was finished in June of 2018 and replaced an outdated golf clubhouse that was built in the 1950s. The new program and event space is now able to host over 200 private and affiliated group rentals per year. The golf course is heavily used from April to October. Over 750 youth, adult and senior members join weekly leagues and programs. Roseville residents demonstrated their support for programs and events hosted by Cedarholm during the six-month advisory process. Community members continue to look and participate in these recreational opportunities. It is a great venue for gatherings such as Roseville’s Annual Natural Resource Management Education event, Roseville’s State of the City Address, and many more.

Roseville residents demonstrated their support for programs and events hosted by Cedarholm during the six-month advisory process.

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Fernbrook Athletic Complex City of Maple Grove


Park, Recreation and Community Education System Plan City of Hutchinson

River’s Edge Commons Expansion City of Elk River

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Administrative or Management Strategies Saint Paul Parks and Recreation – Equity Matters Program The Equity Matters Program provides free registration based and drop-in recreation activities for youth at recreation centers located in neighborhoods of high concentrated poverty in Saint Paul. The Equity Matters Program ensures that youth living in these neighborhoods have access to the same high-quality recreation programs as those living in other more affluent neighborhoods. A major component of the City of Saint Paul and Saint Paul Parks & Recreation’s mission is to create a city that works for everyone. In 2017, the City’s Innovation team conducted an analysis of all fee and registration based programs at all 25 city recreation centers. The Innovation team’s goal was to identify gaps in service and determine methods to increase access and equity in Saint Paul’s recreation service delivery. The Equity Matters Program is funded by a general fund commitment allocated by the Saint Paul Mayor’s Office and City Council. $22,000 was provided for the pilot program in 2017. Due to the success of the pilot program, the support from the general fund increased to $104,000 in 2018 and $210,000 in 2019.

The Equity Matters Program ensures that youth living in these neighborhoods have access to the same high-quality recreation programs as those living in other more affluent neighborhoods.

Saint Paul Parks and Recreation / Como Park Zoo & Conservatory – ROADMAP Initiative Como Park Zoo & Conservatory (Como) launched the ROADMAP (Reaching Our Audiences by Developing Mission Aligned Programs), a three-year, campus-wide, strategic initiative. The ROADMAP focuses on capacity building for all Como staff and volunteers with the goal of providing consistent, impactful, and mission-aligned educational programming and visitor engagement. The ROADMAP consists of three major components: program content standards, program development process, and visitor interaction guide. The ROADMAP Program Content Standards (PCS) provide a mission-aligned framework of guiding questions used to create focused, age-appropriate content for programs. The PCS framework is part of the larger ROADMAP Program Development Process (PDP), which is rooted in the best practice of backwards design and guides staff through the process of selecting a guiding question, creating audience outcomes, and developing an engaging program plan. The ROADMAP PCS and PDP support a wide variety of programs including zookeeper chats, volunteer interpretive stations, education classes, exhibit signage, and more. All staff tasked with developing these types of programs were trained in 2019 and are currently using the process to create more intentional programming.

The ROADMAP Program Content Standards (PCS) provide a mission-aligned framework of guiding questions used to create focused, ageappropriate content for programs.

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Administrative or Management Strategies Three Rivers Park District – Recreation Pass Plus Program The Recreation Pass Plus initiative offers fee assistance to help qualifying Hennepin County residents enjoy Three Rivers Park District’s parks and programs. The program is based on the idea that everyone belongs in the parks to enjoy all that nature has to offer. To be eligible for Recreation Pass Plus, people must live in Hennepin County and must be enrolled in a designated federal, state or county service program. Program participants receive a plastic card valid for one year that includes unlimited free equipment rentals, two free annual recreation passes per family member and discounts on programs and events. The Recreation Pass Plus program is funded through Three Rivers Park District’s general fund operating budget. The card that Recreation Pass Plus participants receive is the same card issued to members of the general public who purchase Park District annual passes as well as the card that is issued to Park District staff and volunteers. The only feature identifying it as a Recreation Pass Plus card is a sticker on the front noting that free equipment rental is included. The program aims to make it easy for people to enroll — either online, by calling Three Rivers’ reservations office, or by a printed application — and allows people to choose the recreation passes that their family is interested in using.

The program aims to make it easy for people to enroll — either online, by calling Three Rivers’ reservations office, or by a printed application — and allows people to choose the recreation passes that their family is interested in using.

Marketing & Communications Eden Prairie – Print and Digital Marketing Redesign Eden Prairie Parks and Recreation initiated a marketing audit in 2019 in order to better understand the information needs of the community. Along with the communications department, a marketing consultant was hired to assist in gathering and analyzing data from the community. As more communication and registration methods moved to digital platforms, the desire was to learn more about community trends and expectations. More than 700 respondents provided valuable feedback through surveys and focus groups on parks and recreation communications, and some clear trends and themes were evident. Most people desired information to be delivered through a computer or mobile device. This project was an example of a strong collaboration between the parks and recreation department and the communications division. While there was already a history of working together to produce publications, posters, flyers and social media posts, this project took an integrated approach where all staff were equal stakeholders in the outcomes.

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 21

Marketing & Communications Elk River Parks and Recreation – Active Elk River Initiative The Active Elk River marketing campaign helped pass the Local Option Sales Tax referendum on November 6, 2018 with an overwhelming 6,830 yes votes, to 3,702 no votes at the polls. In 2016, voters denied a referendum to address failing recreation facilities through a $35 million bond sale levied by property taxes. When that failed, city staff continued working with the Mayor, council members, and community members to develop a more cost-effective, project-specific plan to reinvest in aging facilities – thus, Active Elk River was born. Because Elk River is a regional center, facilities are often used by visitors, and leaders felt it was important for these visitors to share in the cost to improve these amenities. The Active Elk River plan includes the use of low-interest bonds to pay for the improvements with a one-half of one-percent sales tax to fund $35 million in upgrades to parks, recreation facilities, and natural resources. Before bringing this referendum proposal before voters, staff ensured there were no “blind spots” when considering the ways to best communicate. The plan impacted everyone from senior citizens to young kids, so it was important to use every communication tool, including: a standalone website separate from the city’s website (, social media,

e-newsletter and notification tools through the city’s website, but also a mailed informational flyer. The mindset when creating this publication was if a member of the community saw nothing else about Active Elk River, this document would give them everything they needed to know in order to make an informed decision when they voted.

Plymouth Parks and Recreation – Park Building & Shelter Virtual Tour

Washington County – Multi-Lingual Communication in Parks

Prior to renting a city-owned picnic shelter or facility, many residents used to call the Plymouth Parks and Recreation Department with the same request – for a staff member to meet them on-site to show them around. Due to busy phones and walk-up counters, staff couldn’t easily leave the office to show facilities to prospective renters. To alleviate demand, the department brainstormed and borrowed an innovative concept from real estate – virtual walkthrough tours.

In 2019 Washington County Parks started a new equity initiative creating welcoming experiences for non-English speaking visitors to the parks. The initiatives included creating announcements at the Lake Elmo Swim Pond and signage at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park. Staff worked with local school districts in Washington County to identify the highest populations of non-English speaking residents. As a result, it was determined that English, Spanish, and Hmong were the top three most common languages spoken in Washington County schools.

Detailed point-of-view video tours were filmed for popular facilities and shared online for renters to view. The videos have been successful. Since posted, there has been a large reduction in the number of in-person tour requests, which helps free up staff to continue providing customer service during this busy time of year.

22 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

With the system in place and messages interpreted, staff started making multi-lingual announcements in June of 2019. Announcements included information on safety breaks, opening and closing of the pond, and important rules to follow. Staff rolled out phase two of the initiative which was to develop welcome signage in multiple languages as park users entered the parks. Two digital signs were installed near park entrances. One at Lake Elmo Park Reserve and one at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park. The signs now welcome visitors into the parks to communicate information about vehicle permits and park hours. As the needs of the parks change both the signs and announcements can be easily updated to accommodate new messages and additional languages as needed, better serving all visitors who utilize the parks.

Park & Facility Coon Rapids – Riverwind Park Renovation Project Riverwind Park in Coon Rapids was reinvigorated in 2019 after a complete renovation. Condemned tennis courts, an aging playground, cracked pavement and a 45-year-old pool house – a remnant of a longclosed community pool – were replaced with permanent pickleball courts, basketball courts, new playground equipment, walking trails and a fully renovated community building. The project received $900,000 from a Park Bond voters approved in 2013. The City Council allocated another $243,448 from general funds after residents expressed a strong desire to renew Riverwind Park as a community gathering hub. The complete renovation transformed the sad and dilapidated park into a modern, vibrant community space. Riverwind re-opened with great fanfare, hosting hundreds of people for neighborhood meetings, camps, art & fitness classes, private rentals and much more.

Elk River – Rivers Edge Commons Park Expansion During the summer of 2019, the Rivers Edge Commons Park Expansion project that began in 2016 was officially finalized. Located in the heart of downtown, the Rivers Edge Commons Park connects Main Street to the adjacent Mississippi River and provides a venue for festivals and concerts, drawing thousands of visitors every year. The project replaced the lower section of the exiting alley, expanded the turf slope and stone seating, added a stairway, expanded the stage area, replaced the failing retaining wall between the parking lots, and stormwater enhancements. This project represented a unique opportunity to make a great park even better by providing additional event capacity for visitors to enjoy the concert series, strengthening the image of the park edges, and enhancing the storm water functionality. Rivers Edge Commons Park is nestled between businesses and apartment buildings. Prior to the park’s expansion an alleyway between the park and the businesses traversed down the slope of the river bluff connecting Main Street with two parking lots on the bluff terraces. Through the expansion, the alleyway to the lower parking lot was removed, the slope regraded, and vegetation established reducing runoff from Main Street directly to a fast water spillway into the Mississippi River.

Little Canada – Spooner Park All-Inclusive Playground In the summer of 2019, the City of Little Canada removed an existing outdated playground that did not meet accessibility standards or updated fall protection standards. The playground was the first all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities in Little Canada. The planning process started as a simple playground equipment replacement in 2016 for new equipment to be installed in 2017. Most importantly, the youth of the community were able to be involved and have a voice in what features they wanted in their next playground. A common theme that everyone agreed on was to replace the existing playground with a new all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities to be able to participate and make sure it was ADA accessible for not only children but adults as well. The entire playground and surrounding area was completed and opened to the public in the summer of 2019. To make the playground even more special to the community, the City of Little Canada had a first-ever community build event. With the size and features of the playground, a two-day build was anticipated. The response from the community was so fantastic that the playground was able to be built in just one day. Shortly after the community build was complete, the new playground held a grand-opening event.

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 23

Park & Facility Maple Grove – Fernbrook Fields The Fernbrook Fields project was profoundly important to the City of Maple Grove. Prior to the project, the condition of the soccer complex natural grass fields was poor. The fields degraded during the wet weather season and, over time, became unplayable. The demand for an adequate playing surface was high. During the update of the Comprehensive Park System Plan in 2018, the Maple Grove Park Board identified a need for tournament level facilities. The Board saw it as an opportunity to bring people to the area, generate revenue, and create a high level recreation experience for youth. This new multi-use athletic facility serves as a practice facility for Maple Grove sports associations and schools. It also is a regional tournament quality venue for soccer, football, and lacrosse. The 19-acre Fernbrook Complex is able to host community gatherings and is available as a rental facility for resident and corporate events. This facility features four full-size lighted synthetic turf fields lined for soccer, football and lacrosse. There is also a game warm-up area, a public park including a playground, plaza, picnic pavilion, restrooms, concessions and ample parking for facility use.

City of Winona – Winona Ice Park The Winona Ice Park sits high atop the bluffs in Winona and is one of just a few city-owned ice climbing parks in the nation. The manmade ice is separated into two sections on the bluff: a lower-angle area for beginners, and a larger area for more experienced climbers. The park is located on an old quarry on city property and was opened to the public for climbing in 2019. While deicing a location for this new park, the two major issues that had to be worked out were vague property lines on the bluff side, and the lack of a water source to farm the ice. While the details of the quarry location were being worked out, the City of Winona temporarily put the ice park in another city park, and used the time as a “trial and error” period. After obtaining the survey results of the property lines, and the generosity of a private land-owner who allowed a hose to run over the property, the City of Winona now has an amazing ice climbing park that attracts people from all over the Midwest. The quality of ice that they are able to produce, the ease of access at the base and top of the routes, and the proximity to town, make the Winona Ice Park a premier climbing destination.

Congratulations Fernbrook Fields was recognized with MRPA’s Award of Excellence Proud to help bring the Maple Grove Parks and Recreation Department’s vision to life.

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24 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

Congratulations to the City of Maple Grove on winning the 2020 MRPA Awards of Excellence in the Park and Facility category for Fernbrook Fields.

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Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 25

Park & Facility Saint Paul – Frogtown Community Center Throughout its 44 years in operation, the Scheffer Recreation Center in Saint Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood, was one of the City’s most active recreation centers. However, there was a lack of usable space for flexible programming. Through support from the local community, the City of Saint Paul designated the facility for a complete overhaul including a new building, fields, courts, and play area. The goal was to replace the 1972 building with a new facility that was safe, accessible, and provided opportunities to expanded programming for physical and social spaces, and for all ages and backgrounds.

During the design process, department leadership engaged the community to explore a name change for the building. Following surveys and user outreach, it was determined that the name Scheffer Recreation Center was not reflective nor unifying of the community. By a process of survey voting and idea proposals, it was determined the name would be changed to Frogtown Community Center. The new Frogtown Community Center is over three times larger than the Scheffer Recreation Center it replaced and includes integrated artwork, programming specific to the neighborhood, and integration of community requests. The project was entirely funded through the City of Saint Paul’s Capital Improvement Bonds (CIB) process.

Programming & Events Crystal – African Drum & Dance Jamboree The African Drum and Dance Jamboree featured two free workshops to learn about West African Drum and Dance, which was followed a week later by a drum and dance event at a local apartment building in Crystal. The event allowed participants to learn about West African drum and dance, taste Liberian cuisine and connect with community members. At the workshops, participants learned the steps and rhythms that will be used during the event. The jamboree event did a great job of drawing Liberian and other residents from the apartment complex to enjoy the fun entertainment. After the conclusion of the performance, there was free food provided by African Foods and Gifts, as well as time for all to talk amongst one another and grow as a community. Funding for this event came from the Crystal Recreation Department’s general budget. Early in 2019, the recreation department discussed how to reach and connect with the diverse populations of Crystal. They contacted African Career Education & Resource Inc. (ACER Inc.) about ways to connect with other populations to make everyone feel welcome.

26 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

Programming & Events Minnetonka – Burwell Spooktacular The Burwell Spooktacular was a new community special event offered on October 25, 2019 at Minnetonka Mills Park. The park is home to the Charles H. Burwell House, a listing on the National Register of Historic Places that also includes a boardwalk, walking paths, and a footbridge over the Minnehaha Creek. All of these features made it an ideal location for the Halloween-themed event. The Burwell Spooktacular was unique since it was free event. Many of the holiday-related events require registration and are fee-based. This event allowed open access for all that wanted to attend. The Burwell House has the look of a haunted house, so it provided a unique backdrop to the Halloween-themed event. It also gave community members an opportunity to learn more about Minnetonka history through guided tours. The community response was very positive and over 1,100 people attended this new fall event. The event benefited a local youth organization, Boy Scout Troop 345, through their concession sales. In addition, neon sales raised $400 for the Recreation Services Scholarship Fund which benefits program participants who are in need of financial assistance.

New Hope – New Year’s Movie at the Arena In 2019 the City of New Hope hosted a New Year’s Eve Movie at the New Hope Ice Arena and showed the movie Aladdin on a jumbo screen on the north rink. The New Hope Ice Arena staff set-up an open skate on the south rink for families before the movie and the Armstrong Cooper Youth Hockey Association (ACYHA) served concessions to those in attendance. The funding for the event was minimal as a majority of the equipment was already owned by the City. ACYHA was willing to sponsor the event. It was free to watch the movie, but the open skate beforehand had an entry fee. The event would not have been possible without the coordination and partnership between staff from parks and recreation and the ice arena. Additionally, ACYHA was a huge partner as they paid for the movie license sponsorship, coordinated volunteers to work in the concessions stand, and promoted the event within their organization.

ACYHA was a huge partner as they paid for the movie license sponsorship, coordinated volunteers to work in the concessions stand, and promoted the event within their organization.

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 27

Programming & Events Three Rivers Park District – e-cology: the Evolution of Technology E-cology is a park-wide event at Silverwood Park where artists and naturalists introduce the 21+ gaming and self-identified nerd community to the Three Rivers Park District mission of promoting environmental stewardship through recreation and education. The natural spaces they use in gameplay are valuable because they have been designated as natural spaces in real life and the game. In e-cology, Silverwood Park becomes a giant game board where participants interact with the outdoors by playing video and board games, canoeing, learning how to use cell phone applications to identify plants and animals, discovering information about the stars in a Digital Star Lab Planetarium, and interacting with artist-created projected games based on the environment. The e-cology event was funded through Silverwood Park’s operating budget within the Three Rivers Park District general fund budget. Partners provided their own technology and Silverwood’s main expense was staff time at stations during the event. Approximately 450 participants attended the e-cology program. The program met its goal of expanding interest in the outdoors among members of the gaming community.

Partnerships & Sponsorships Brooklyn Center – Cummins Partnership The City of Brooklyn Center and Cummins engineers have been collaborating for three years to enhance youth programs and incorporate engineering experiences into programs. Every summer, Cummins purchases Tinker Crates by Kiwi Co. and a group of engineers attend summer youth programs and lead the participants through the Tinker Crate activity while teaching engineering principles. After a few years, Cummins expressed interest in discovering new ways to support the youth programs. In 2019, recreation staff wanted to purchase the Imagination Playground™ Big Blue Blocks set and storage bags to expand programming, as well as help foster free play that is safe and innovative. Recreation staff contacted Cummins to inquire if any grant opportunities were available to support this project. The local Cummins team agreed to support the project and were able to apply for the Cummins Community Grant to receive the funds to purchase the Imagination Playground™. The recreation department has been able to add the program, Tiny Tot Time, which gives early childhood children access to safe play. Due to the grant fully funding the equipment and the low staff-participant ratio, the addition has provided more free and low cost programming for the community.

28 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

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Partnerships & Sponsorships Eagan – Mobile Lunchbox Eagan Parks and Recreation partnered with The Open Door Food Pantry for several programs in the fight to end hunger for children and their families in the Eagan community. The Open Door’s mission is: A fresh approach to ending local hunger through access to healthy food. Food donations were collected from attendees and vendors at Market Fest, a weekly Farmers Market that was held on the grounds of Central Park. Eagan Parks and Recreation also partnered with the Open Door Mobile Lunch Box and Rahn Elementary School to provide lunch and snacks for Summer in the Park participants and community members under the age of 18. This program assisted in providing 46% more summer meals to kids in Dakota County. The Open Door also provided lunches to the Rec on the Go program. The programs that were a collaboration, did not cost the Eagan any extra money since they were already existing programs that were enhanced with new partnerships and filled a community need. The funding for the lunch program was provided by the Open Door Mobile Lunch Box program. The partnership with the Open Door and other collaborators provided opportunities to assist the Eagan community in the fight against hunger.

Lakeville Parks and Recreation King Park Mini Golf Course The King Park Mini Golf Course is a nine-hole, fully accessible amenity, located at King Park. The mini golf course is also home to the South Metro Miracle League field, and an allinclusive playground. This new amenity is designed for youth of all ages, but specifically those with cognitive and physical disabilities. Given the success of the South Metro Miracle League, this new feature is well-utilized by the players and their families. Lakeville staff was approached to construct this amenity by several members from the community including representatives from local businesses. Funding for the project was secured through fundraising events, donations and grant opportunities without the utilization of city funds. The concepts were presented and approved by the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Committee in the spring of 2018 and later approved by City Council. The fundraising officially commenced followed by construction starting in September of 2019 with completion in November.

New Hope – Urban Orchard at Little Acre Park The City of New Hope created an Urban Orchard with 25 fruit trees that were planted at Little Acre Park. The New Hope Parks and Recreation and New Hope Public Works departments, along with Hennepin County and The Food Group partnered together to make this Urban Orchard a possibility. The trees for the orchard were donated by Hennepin County and included: apple, apricot, pear, and plum trees. When the trees began bearing fruit, the harvest benefited the residents of New Hope and families in need. Hennepin County reached out to staff in the fall of 2018 to see if the City of New Hope was interested in a donation of fruit trees to plant. Early in the summer of 2019 a decision was made that green space outside of the youth baseball field and next to the walking path at New Hope’s Little Acre Park would be an ideal location. The Food Group provided a staff member who took lead, promoted the event and recruited volunteers for the planting. Everything needed for the Urban Orchard was donated, free, or were supplies that were already owned by the different participating groups.

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Partnerships & Sponsorships New Brighton – The Beautiful Project – Tree of Life Mural In the spring of 2018, the City of New Brighton changed their motto from “the City that works for you” to “Building Tomorrow Today.” Although the old motto was still appropriate, the City adapted its new motto with the intent to modernize, invest in infrastructure and encourage a more inclusive atmosphere. Mayor Val Johnson implemented an inclusivity task force, which included many diverse individuals to provide insight to leadership about how to promote and encourage diversity, equity and inclusiveness in the community. This new ethos opened the door for beautification and community projects including a partnership with Infinite Vision Art’s “The Beautiful Project”, led by muralist and Minnesota native, Pamela Sukhum. Their ideas were adopted into a collaborative mural for the entire community. This project was a new direction and a new initiative for New Brighton-one which would hopefully be a stepping stone to other unifying art and community projects. To be successful, this project needed to incorporate City staff, local business, residents and many other organizations within the community. Despite unforeseen project costs, the City, along with our partners, worked together to create Minnesota’s Largest Community Painted Mural. Over 100 participants painted an area that was 30’ x 30’ with brushes that were one-inch or smaller.

Hutchinson– Elks Inclusive Playground Project The Elks Inclusive Playground Project was a collaboration between the City of Hutchinson and the local Hutchinson Elks Lodge #2427. The notion of adding an inclusive playground into Elks Park was an idea of Elks Lodge members, who approached the parks department in 2015. The Hutchinson Elks Lodge presented the City Council with a $38,906 donation as an initial down payment on the first phase of the inclusive playground. Then in February 2017, enough funds had been raised to have the second phase of the Zip Krooz installed. Installation date was May 2017. Having these two larger pieces added into Elks Park really expanded the original playground site. In summer of 2018, the remainder $73,000 was given to the City of Hutchinson for the final third phase. The inclusive playground project was completely finished in May 2019. All the funds donated to the City of Hutchinson from the Elks Lodge were used to purchase equipment, add an additional sidewalk, and pay for the installation. The actual purchasing of equipment and materials for this project were purchased by the City of Hutchinson, since they own the property. The City also contributed to the project by providing labor and equipment to excavate the site. The City of Hutchinson is very fortunate to have an active Elks Lodge within their community. They see their sponsored park as a priority in their mission to improve the community and keep things at the highest level of quality.

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 31

Partnerships & Sponsorships Saint Paul – Sanneh Foundation There are currently six re-partnered recreation centers operated by non-profit organizations, but owned by the City of Saint Paul. One of the most successful partnerships to come out of the City’s System’s Plan is with the Sanneh Foundation which leases and operates Conway Recreation Center on Saint Paul’s east side. Partnering with the Sanneh Foundation has allowed the City to provide expanded and more specialized recreation programming. Thousands of youth participate in free Sanneh camps including soccer, basketball, football and baseball as well as youth development programs. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation would not have the capacity to offer these Above: A schematic rendering of the new athletic fields and dome which will be built at the camps without the partnership with the Sanneh Conway Recreation Center Foundation. The new 15-year lease agreement with the Sanneh Foundation will provide over $10 million dollars in Capital improvements to the interior of Conway Recreation Center and to the athletic fields. This once in a lifetime investment at Conway would not have been possible due or would have taken years due to the large volume of centers that the City owns and maintains. The Sanneh Foundation’s ability to raise money to make these investments will serve the Conway neighborhood’s recreation needs for decades to come. It will also create an athletics hub on the City’s East Side.

Washington County – Life Jacket Loaner Stations During the spring of 2019 as part of a larger community partnership, Washington County installed fully equipped life jacket loaner stations at the Lake Elmo Park Reserve swim pond and Big Marine Park Reserve swimming beach. Through the Safe Kids Council, Washington County Parks and Washington County Sheriff’s Office was able to obtain initial funding by way of donations through Lake Elmo Rotary and Vali Hi Drive-In Theatre to purchase a weather resistant shed, signage and life jackets. The stations are made up of weather resistant storage containers and are stocked with an inventory of Type III United States Coast Guard Approved personal flotation devices. Once the swimming area is staffed by lifeguards for the day and the loaner stations opened, any swimmer can borrow a life jacket from these stations to use while swimming at the beach for as long as needed and return to the loaner station when they are done. Lifeguards monitor the loaner stations and can help ensure swimmers are selecting appropriate sizes and wearing the life jackets properly. Lifeguards are also responsible to ensure all life jackets are collected and returned to the storage bins at the end of the day so they can be secured overnight. The stations remained in use throughout the 2019 swimming season and the program is being expanded into new locations for 2020. Each life jacket loaner station provides a valuable resource for families and individuals of any swimming ability to participate safely in this recreational activity.

Each life jacket loaner station provides a valuable resource for families and individuals of any swimming ability to participate safely in this recreational activity.

32 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

Volunteer Initiatives Saint Paul Parks and Recreation – Deep Clean Volunteer Events The community volunteer “deep clean” event series is comprised of seven volunteer clean-up events, with one event held in each of the seven Saint Paul city council wards. The concept was simple: create a community friendly event which encourages individuals and groups to engage in a refresh at a community recreation, both inside and out. The planning process addressed the concerns that the recreation center facilities needed a level of maintenance attention they were not receiving from the regular routine. Funding for the deep clean volunteer events come from the existing operations budget and the idea was kept simple and close to home. Volunteers were from three levels: groups, individuals and community service hours. Each group provided dozens of volunteers to help with the project in their specific area. In addition, there were dozens of volunteers from the neighborhood within each of the seven areas. People really enjoyed the fact that their site was receiving some special attention and that the final impact was a cleaner, spruced-up area.

People really enjoyed the fact that their site was receiving some special attention and that the final impact was a cleaner, spruced-up area.



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Reach key municipal park & recreation buyers! MINNESOTA is a hyper-targeted magazine mailed to more than 850 MRPA members and affiliates. It features industry-relevant content which is read and kept as a point of reference. Issues include valuable information about educational opportunities, parks, recreation, facilities, athletics, natural resources, and more. It’s a popular resource read by municipal employees throughout the state. The magazine provides an opportunity to market directly to the people who need your products, services, and programs.

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Advertising Deadlines & Special Sections* Winter 2021 magazine issue Ad deadline: December 20, 2020 | Mails: February 2021 Content: Aquatics; online degree programs; CPRP; park and facility construction

Spring 2021 magazine issue Ad deadline: March 6, 2021 | Mails: April 2021 Content: MRPA member awards; turf, fields and grounds care; hiring summer staff, training (concussion, staff), RISE

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Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 33

Answering the CallS OF



34 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

Image: HGA

zero energy, sustainable nature center The City of St. Louis Park’s Westwood Hills Nature Center (WHNC) is a 160-acre nature park featuring prairie, forest and marsh areas, with trails and an educational center. WHNC sought to replace their small, aging facility with a new building whose overarching purpose and vision is connecting people to nature. HGA’s site design expands an existing specimen prairie, creates an outdoor classroom space on the site of the old building, and provides expanded parking for visitors to the new facility. The building forms an experiential and informational threshold to the site. Together, the architectural and site design serve to reinforce visitors’ connection to their landscape. WHNC’s programming is education-focused, and the heart of the building is formed by a series of multipurpose rooms that

will be used for environmental learning classrooms and public events. The new interpretive center will provide expanded public exhibit space and flexible learning spaces for a variety of environmental learning programming for students ranging from preschoolers to seniors. Staff offices, raptor mews and additional support spaces will be included to support programming. Part of a City effort towards a sustainable future, WHNC will serve as an exemplar for sustainability strategies. Targeting Zero Energy certification, HGA’s design provides a high-performance building envelope, form and layout to take advantage of solar and wind angles on site. Energy use is offset by rooftop solar photovoltaic panels. These and other sustainable features are expressed in the design to serve as a teaching tool for visitors.

Image: HGA

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 35

Westwood HILLS Nature Center’s GREEN INITIATIVES

Active and passive solar: Solar panels cover approximately 7,400 square feet of roof area and will produce nearly 150,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually to offset the building’s electricity needs. Meanwhile, the placement of the building and its large windows invites natural daylight in, reducing the building’s overall electricity demand. Cozy (and efficient) winter comfort: The new energy-efficient fireplace, powered by the rooftop solar panels, warms the building without the carbon emissions of wood or gas. Pipes embedded in the building’s concrete floor pump hot water to radiate warmth directly to the areas where people are spending time, reducing the electricity needed to heat the building. Geothermal piping system: The building sits atop a geothermal well field. Pipes from the wells carry heat to and from the earth into the building. This system uses less than half the energy of a conventional heating and cooling system. Additional sustainable design features include: Permeable pavers, rain gardens and bird-friendly glass. Visit the Nature Center to see these features, plus visit the expanded exhibits, raptors and the many scenic hiking trails surrounding the interpretive center. The Center is located at 8300 W. Franklin Ave. in St. Louis Park. Visit whnc for more information.

Connecting people to nature

420 North 5th Street Minneapolis, MN 55401 |

36 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

ACHIEVING ZERO ENERGY CERTIFICATION from the international living future institute (ILFI) WHAT IS RENEWABLE ENERGY? Renewable Energy is power generated from resources like the sun, wind, water and earth. Renewable energy for a ZE project is produced through solar/photovoltaics, wind turbines, waterpowered microturbines and geothermal energy.

WHAT’S NOT ALLOWED IN A ZERO ENERGY (ZE) BUILDING? Fossil fuel combustion and nuclear power, which are not considered renewable energy. With some limited exceptions, combustion is prohibited. For more ways to generate renewable power and specific requirements, please look at the Energy Petal Handbook available free to all Living Future Members.

IS ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING INCLUDED IN THE ZERO ENERGY BALANCE? The project energy budget may exclude any electric vehicle charging energy, as long as it is separately metered during the 12-month performance period. This exclusion is intended to encourage projects to install vehicle charging stations that support non-project-owned electric vehicles.

WHY SHOULD YOU CERTIFY YOUR BUILDING AS ZERO ENERGY? Since the Institute’s Zero Energy Certification™ (ZE) is based on actual performance data, and not an energy model, it verifies that your building is performing as you’d expect. ZE certification gives your project a stamp of approval from one of the world’s most prestigious sustainability organizations and helps maintain integrity of the zero energy ideal. To support this integrity, the ILFI draws only from ZE projects pursuing or achieving ZE certification for its own case studies, education, publications and books. ILFI certification brings your project into the larger ILFI ecosystem – let us amplify the story of your project to the world.

WHAT BUILDINGS QUALIFY FOR ZERO ENERGY BUILDING CERTIFICATION? Nearly any building can be certified: new or already operational, anywhere in the world. As stated above, buildings which include combustion are prohibited, with some limited exceptions. To evaluate the specifics of your project, please contact

HOW IS ZERO ENERGY RELATED TO THE LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE? The Zero Energy certification utilizes similar outcome-based metrics as the Energy Petal from the Living Building Challenge, but is a separate program that focuses exclusively on the energy balance of a project. Projects that wish to certify their approach to a broader spectrum of regenerative design targets should consider pursuit of Petal or Living status.

IS SCALE JUMPING ALLOWED? Yes. The Institute acknowledges that the ideal scale for solutions is not always within a building’s property boundary. Depending on the technological solution, the optimal scale can vary when considering environmental impact, first cost and operating costs. Scale Jumping is an overlay in the Living Building Challenge that allows multiple projects to operate in a cooperative state – sharing infrastructure as appropriate and allowing for fulfillment of requirements as elegantly and efficiently as possible. To learn more about Zero Energy, visit

Image: HGA

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 37 Image: HGA




How do we create communities that are good for everyone? The Living Community Challenge is a framework for master planning, design, and construction. It is a tool to create a symbiotic relationship between people and all aspects of the built environment. The program is a call to action to governments, campuses, planners, developers and neighborhood groups to create communities that are as connected and beautiful as a forest.

The Living Community Challenge is organized into seven performance areas (Petals). Each performance area has a number of more detailed requirements (Imperatives). PLACE PETAL Restoring a healthy interrelationship with nature. WATER PETAL Creating developments that operate within the water balance of a given place and climate. ENERGY PETAL Relying only on current solar income.

Invest in the future of your community by using regenerative design strategies in your next project.

HEALTH & HAPPINESS PETAL Creating environments that optimize physical and psychological health and well being.


MATERIALS PETAL Endorsing products that are safe for all species through time.

With the Living Community Challenge framework you can create communities that are: •

Healthy for all elements of life

EQUITY PETAL Supporting a just and equitable world.

Nurturing and generous places that promote healthy lifestyles for everyone

BEAUTY PETAL Celebrating plans that purpose transformative change.

Net Positive with respect to water and energy. Living Communities generate their own energy and capture and treat all the water they need.

Designed using multipurpose elements. Nothing has only a single purpose; everything has multiple benefits to the community and environment

Regenerative spaces for people and natural ecosystems

Places that are walkable, bike-able, and have affordable public transportation.


Do you have more questions about the Living Community Challenge? Visit and take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions page You can also download the “Living Community Challenge Handbook” at

1. All Imperatives are mandatory. 2. Certification is based on actual, rather than modeled or anticipated, performance.


38 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •



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qualifying machine from Ziegler CAT during 2020, we will send you a ® $500 PREPAID VISA GIFT CARD after the sale is complete. What’s in it for your friend? A $500 store credit. It’s arefer win-win for bothwho of you. After all, what friends for? When you someone buys a new Cat®are qualifying machine from Ziegler CAT during 2020, we will send you a ®

®not purchased a new machine from Ziegler within the past five years. Valid only if theVISA buyer has GIFT CARD after the sale is complete. What’s in it for your friend? A $500 store credit. $500 PREPAID It’s a win-win for both of you. After all, what are friends for? Valid only if the buyer has not purchased machine fromAT: Ziegler within the past five years. GETa new STARTED

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Climbing at Sugar Loaf in Winona Photo: Cynthya Porter/Visit Winona

40 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •


Responding to the nationwide upswing in hiking and mountain biking, the City of Winona recognized the opportunity to turn its beautiful bluff landscape into a destination recreation area. In January of 2019, the Winona City Council unanimously approved the Bluffs Traverse Conservation and Recreation Area and Bluffside Parks Plan. The plan lays out $2.67 million to $3.18 million in trail development and improvements to Winona’s bluffside parks.

(Sugar Loaf, Garvin, and Bluffside) for the ambitious project, including 10-16 miles of mountain bike trails, and 8-10 miles of shared use and hiking area. Amenities on the trail include scenic overlooks, rock and ice climbing, outdoor classrooms, and rest stops, inclusive of interactive and wayfinding signage.

In addition to development planned for Sugar Loaf, Garvin Heights and Bluffside parks, the project envisions miles of paved and unpaved multi-use pedestrian and bicycle trails as well as year-round programming.

Highlights of the plan include long-term environmental benefits, easier access, increased tourism and economic development, and the availability of new programming. Many of the programs will be based on those already offered. As it stands, all existing trails are self-guided and most formal programming is limited to Holzinger Lodge. A few of the programs under consideration are tree identification, geocaching, bird watching, summer day camps, and snowshoe and ski events.

The City of Winona worked with ISG to develop the Bluffs Traverse Conservation and Recreation Area Comprehensive Plan, resulting in two different plans linking together three parks

Photo: Cynthya Porter/Visit Winona

Photo: Mary Farrell/Visit WInona

Photo: Cynthya Porter/Visit Winona

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 41

“So far we’ve done a lot of prep work to make sure that the future upgrades to facilities/trailheads, trail expansion/ decommissioning trails, and conservation work will be done right,” said Alicia Lano, Outdoor Recreation Coordinator for the City of Winona. “Besides the Master Plan, we’ve had a Natural Resources Management Plan created by BARR Engineering and an Archaeological Survey done. We’ve also had the International

Photo: Mary Farrell/Visit WInona

42 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) Trail Solutions crew out here flagging potential trails and creating a draft plan of our trail system. We’ve also acquired some land and are working on recreational easements with landowners that relates to this project as well.” Winona’s driftless area of the state causes the city to consider how to conserve the fragile bluffs while also providing outdoor

Photo: Bob Conover/Visit Winona

by the numbers

$2.67 to $3.18 million in trail development and improvements Miles of mountain bike trails:


Miles of shared use and hiking area:

8-10 Photo: Cynthya Porter/Visit Winona

recreation opportunities. “Not only will we be building trails, we will also be decommissioning or rerouting unsustainable trails. There are also plans to start better managing plant invasives and restoring our bluff prairie,” said Lano. The project is currently in the financing stage. Funding for the multi-million dollar parks project will be sourced from a variety of federal, state and local grants and could take several years to complete. In early November of this year, the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission (GMRPTC) — recommended approval of the city’s $560,000 Legacy grant request. That money, together with $128,000 in matching funds from the city and a $12,000 donation from Winona Area Mountain Bikers (WAMB), would fund phase one of the Bluffs Traverse project. The first phase includes two new trails, invasive species removal, and work to decommission unsustainable, highly erosive trails in the Holzinger Trails network. At present, the city is making plans to build one trail in the spring of 2021.

Photo: Cynthya Porter/Visit Winona

Photo: Mary Farrell/Visit WInona

Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 43


Considerations When Sourcing Outdoor Signage Durability and ease of maintenance play critical role in protecting your investment By Stephnie Coufal, iZone Imaging Choosing quality, durable outdoor signage that is easy to order and maintain can be a challenge. You have to research your options, compare costs, understand the materials, guarantee the printing method can maintain the integrity of your design…the list goes on. Before you purchase your next outdoor signs, consider these five tips to ensure you don’t face the same old headaches after you get your new signage installed.

graphics and photos on aluminum can be restrictive and the signs can begin to fade over a couple of years. Vinyl Vinyl signs and banners are an excellent short-term solution for event banners and light poles. Some vinyl is made specifically with the outdoors in mind, meaning they use ink that is resistant to UV rays. Vinyl is also an excellent solution for yard signs. Wood Wood signs can be classy and create a rustic look. They can be engraved and painted for smaller directional signs. A downfall of wood signage is long-term maintenance expenses as wood needs to be treated or replaced often due to everyday wear-and-tear and damage from weather. Wood is also susceptible to insect infestation.

Tip #1: Make sure the signage material is weather-resistant. Weather patterns can be brutal, so whether your signs will be used at a community park, along a trail system, or part of a nature center or themed environment, they should be able to endure inclement weather and high visitor traffic. Signs can be made of a large variety of materials and substrates. Each one has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. Aluminum Aluminum is a durable substrate commonly used for outdoor signs like parking and directional signage. Aluminum substrate can come unpainted, or painted on one or both sides. It most commonly comes painted white, but can be painted in a variety of colors. Printing of complex

Custom High Pressure Laminate (CHPL) CHPL is an excellent solution for outdoor signage. It is exceptionally versatile, impervious to moisture, and is fade, scratch, and graffiti-resistant. Graphic reproduction on CHPL signage is second to none. While it may cost a bit more to produce, the long-term benefits pay for itself many times over.

Tip #2: Weigh durability vs cost (cheaper isn’t always better). Outdoor signs can get pricey, which is why it’s important you use a material that’s durable and won’t have to be replaced every couple of years due to fading, cracking, or harsh weather. Investing in a durable material saves you money in the long run.

44 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

Be sure to ask your signage manufacturer if your investment comes with a long-term, reliable warranty.

Tip #3: Make certain the material is easy to clean. When people love your space, your signage will naturally get dirty due to the rigors of public interaction – not to mention the adverse effects of inclement weather, pollution, and critter waste. Make sure your signage can be easily cleaned with just soap and water. Also inquire about the worst-case scenario, graffiti (paint, permanent marker, decals, etc.). These should be able to be safely removed using organic solvents.

Tip #4: Maintain the integrity of your brand and message. Outdoor signs should reflect your organization’s brand and message for multiple reasons. Whether you’re designing warning and regulatory signs, path and trail markers, or interpretive signage, you must provide your visitors with clear and consise safety and direction.


Signs & Graphics Guaranteed to Last Additionally, signage connects visitors to your environment and should provide long-term value through its vibrant visual impact. Signage can be the first impression a visitor or customer receives when encountering your brand. First impressions matter! When you purchase an outdoor sign, ensure the manufacturer can meet all of your artwork requirements. Ask your producer if they can match colors and cut signs into any shape. Lastly, don’t forget about finishing options. Depending on where your sign is located, the finish can play a huge role in readability. Many sign companies offer a matte, satin or gloss finish. If the sign is touched by visitors, see if they have a finish that minimizes smudges and fingerprints.

Tip #5: Ensure your signage can be easily installed. Your hard work and energy should be focused on designing valuable signage for your customers, not on figuring out how to install large, heavy, and awkward displays. When you purchase an outdoor sign, make sure the signage company offers affordable, easy-to-install mounting solutions that will showcase your beautiful and informative designs.

The key take-away for purchasing the perfect outdoor sign? Durability. Durability. Durability. I can’t stress enough how important durability is for this long-term investment.

iZone Signs 4 Antimicrobial 4 Weather-resistant

See why CHPL is the best choice for your project! Call 888-464-9663 or email to request your free sample kit!

4 Quick to produce 4 10-year warranty 4 Easy to clean 4 Maintain your brand integrity 4 Easy to install

To discuss signage options, contact Stephnie Coufal at 888-464-9663, x100 or email

How do I begin? Find a vendor committed to helping you inspire, guide, and educate your visitors by creating high-quality signage that will keep your visitors coming back. Find someone with a proven track record and who can turn around products quickly. Lastly, be sure to ask about a warranty so you don’t have to keep replacing your outdoor signs.


888-464-9663 • WWW.IZONEIMAGING.COM Fall 2020 • MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks 45

MRPA CorporateConnections OUTDOOR PRODUCTS – TR AILS, BOARDWALKS, ATHLETIC COURTS Connecting Point A to Point B – Bridges & Boardwalks Custom Manufacturing is a small woman-owned business that specializes in recreation bridges and boardwalks for the last 30 years. Our bridges and boardwalk use a unique patented footing system that is cost effective and environmentally/wetland friendly. We sell easy-to-install kits that can be custom built specifically to each site. We are connecting people to nature one bridge or boardwalk at a time.

Custom Manufacturing,

A Court for Every Sport Outdoor athletic surfaces are an important resource for your communities now more than ever. As a safe, social distance activity, the usage of tennis and pickleball courts has most likely increased in your parks. If your tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball courts or trails need maintenance to provide the most fun and safe experience in outdoor recreation, call Bituminous Roadways, Inc. We have performed construction and maintenance on many outdoor athletic park projects throughout the Twin Cities Metro area.

Bituminous Roadways, Inc.,

Stones for the Paths Less More Taken

Complete Your Outdoor Spaces with the Right Bench As with any project, the finishing touches can make a world of difference. Choosing the right bench for your outdoor space can be a vital part of ensuring its success, which is right where Pilot Rock comes in. We have benches suitable for sophisticated streetscapes, public parks and trails, malls, patios, recreational and athletic facilities, and rustic campsites, Pilot Rock has a bench for ANY location. Visit our website to see which bench is right for you!

RJ Thomas Mfg. Co.,

46 MINNESOTA Recreation and Parks •

Custom-cut stones are great for trails, monuments, stairways, benches, paths and more. They’re ideal for the harshest of elements. Our boulder steps (shown at right) are cut in Burnsville, MN, are seven inches thick and heat treated on both sides. Steps are available in widths of two to six feet. Reach out to talk about your next project.

Rock Hard Landscape Supply,

New Look, Same People, Same Great Service We would love to help you plan your custom waterpark features or destination playground for 2021. We offer free consultations.

Give us a call!



NEW PLAYGROUND ALERT! Phelps Park, Minneapolis

Go see this unique playground and then give us a call to discuss your project! • Inclusive/Accessible Playgrounds • Play Surfacing • Inspections by CPSI • Relocation/Repair • Exercise/Strength Training • Sport Courts • Shade/Shelter/ Site Furnishings

(612) 460-PLAY

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